Events & Media

The Bren School Will Miss Naomi Schwartz
The former Santa Barbara County supervisor and longtime supporter of the school passed away on June


Naomi Schwartz

With the passing of Naomi Schwartz on Monday, June 4, the Bren School lost a champion, a mentor, a role model, and a close friend.

The former three-term Santa Barbara County supervisor was a founding member of the Bren School Dean’s Council and had attended the group’s most recent breakfast meeting, on May 11. She also mentored many students and alumni, offering wisdom gained during her years of working in the policy realm and providing financial aid for student support every year since 2005.

“Naomi had a beautiful ability to see the role of policy in achieving environmental solutions,” said Bren School assistant dean of development, Jennifer Deacon. “She did such a phenomenal job of bringing all parties to the table and bridging gaps among disparate viewpoints to achieve lasting and powerful solutions.

“She was optimistic without being na├»ve, and she understood and embodied the vision and mission of the Bren School,” Deacon added. “Through her mentoring, she helped students understand the role of the policy maker and how policy evolves. She embodied what we hope our students will aspire to.”

“Naomi provided the funding that allowed me to accept an unpaid summer internship,” said Karly Kaufman (MESM 2012). “I met her at the student awards dinner in fall 2011. She was immediately so warm and open with me, she encouraged me to keep doing the things I found valuable and had a passion for, and she told me that if I ever needed anything, she’d be there. I’m shocked and saddened by her passing. I was looking forward to seeing her at graduation and to have a continuing relationship with her, but I’m glad I got to know her and to be encouraged and inspired by her.”

As a member of the Bren School Dean’s Council, Schwartz was always looking for ways to support the development of the school and the curriculum, and she was instrumental in connecting the school to people who would realize its value and contribute their expertise to furthering its mission.

Largely because of Schwartz’s work, the Santa Barbara chapter of the philanthropic organization Social Venture Partners (SVP) began contributing $25,000 per year to support entrepreneurial training at the Bren School, becoming the first SVP chapter to partner with a university entity.

“Naomi was beloved by the many students she supported and by those of us with whom she shared her wisdom, humor, and kindness,” Deacon added.